Spreading Ashes by Boat: Common Ways To Do This

More and more people throughout the U.S. and worldwide continue to choose to be cremated instead of buried. This is mainly due to a much lower cost of cremation and that many families are less traditional than they once were. In line with this growing trend, many people are also choosing to have their ashes spread in a water burial.

Spreading Ashes from a Boat

spreading ashes boat

There are many ways a family can spread a loved one’s ashes from a boat into a body of water, and below we describe the most common ways people do this.

Floating

Floating is one of the most common ways people spread a loved one’s ashes from a boat. It involves taking a biodegradable urn holding some or all of your loved one’s ashes and floating it out into the water. Float times depend on the type of urn used. Below we describe two popular options available in the U.S.

Eco Water Urn

The Eco Water Urn is a unique patent pending biodegradable urn made from recycled plant materials with only heat and pressure (no glues or chemicals). This special urn floats upright (similar to a buoy) for a up to a few minutes until the bottom slowly breaks apart and the ashes are gracefully freed into the water. The urn comes packaged in an attractive bamboo case that helps you securely transport the urn to that special place on the water and can be engraved with your loved one’s name, date of birth and death, a saying, and a symbol of choice. In addition, many families choose to write special messages or drawings with a marker on the urn itself prior to floating it out on the water.

Flow, the Ice Urn

Flow, the Ice Urn is a highly unique patented urn made entirely from a block of ice. This stunning urn floats on top of the water for a number of minutes until the bottom begins to open up and the ashes are released from a cavity in the urn into the water. It was developed by renowned designer Diane Leclair Bisson for the Memoria Collection and has received multiple prestigious European design awards. The Living Urn now offers this special urn on an exclusive basis in the U.S. and will have it available in select markets this Spring and nationwide by year-end.

Casting

Another popular way many families spread a loved one’s ashes from a boat is by casting. This involves releasing the ashes into the air which then fall a few feet from the person who is scattering. It’s important that whoever is casting does so by the side of the boat so the ashes fall into the water as intended and also that they’re casting downwind so the ashes don’t blow back on them. 

Some families will use a simple container to cast ashes, however, with these there is an increased risk of having the ashes blow back on them or into the boat.  The Eco Scattering Urn is designed to help prevent this, and we describe this unique urn in more detail below.

Eco Scattering Urn

The Eco Scattering Urn is a patented urn designed to spread ashes that serves as an affordable alternative for families. This unique urn is a long, cylinder shape (like a tube) which helps people spread a loved one’s ashes away from their body (and away from the boat). It is made entirely from bamboo, a biodegradable and sustainable resource. The urn comes standard with a unique open and close locking mechanism which helps families securely transport the urn carrying the ashes to the special place for the memorial and also helps you spread the ashes with control and ease. The Eco Scattering Urn can be engraved with a loved one’s name, date of birth and death, a saying, and a symbol of choice, all for an affordable price.

Boating Services for Spreading Ashes

Almost every port in the U.S. has one or more boating companies that provide scattering services. Many of these serve as charter boats, fishing boats, tour boats, or whale watching boats for the majority of the time, but also offer scattering services. A quick internet search can typically identify one or more options at a port of your choosing.

There are two main types of burials at sea performed by boating companies – attended and unattended.

Attended Boating Services

With an attended burial at sea, you along with family and friends go out on the boat to perform the water burial. Prior to booking a boat for an attended service, be sure to first check how many people it can accommodate and if this fits with the amount of people who you expect will attend. With an attended service, you can have the flexibility to design your own service including who will participate in spreading the ashes, who will speak, and if music will be played and food and beverages will be served.

Unattended Boating Services

Many times, family and friends cannot physically attend a service. This can be due to illness, family living far away, mobility restrictions on some family members, or situations such as with COVID-19. In these situations, a loved one’s cremated ashes can be provided to the boating service in person or sent in the mail via USPS. The ship captain of the boating company will take the ashes out to a special place on the water to have them spread. Many companies allow special requests that can occur during the scattering, including playing a certain meaningful song or reading a verse or poem, among many other things. Also, some boating companies do this where it can be visible from shore – this can give families the opportunity to hold a service on land while they view the boat in the distance spreading their loved one’s ashes in the water.  Alternative ways to view the spreading of the ashes can include live or recorded video via Livestream, Zoom, Facebook Live, YouTube, and FaceTime, among many other options.

Cost of Spreading Ashes by Boat

The cost of spreading ashes with a boating company varies by region, what services are included, and how many people will participate. In general, an attended scattering by boat will cost approximately $500 to upwards of $2,000 and an unattended scattering will range from $200 to $400. If you're interested in learning more about the costs associated with a water burial, click here for an informative blog on this topic.